100 years – the first five

Ever since I’ve started reading George Mahood’s ‘Everyday is a holiday’, I get crazy ideas. What’s my latest? Well, I began a small research project to find about events that occurred every year on the 30th of July since 1916. Why 30th of July you may ask, hmm.., it marks the day I was born. Ahan, I thought it would be cool to know what happened on this particular date every year since 1916, giving it a frame of hundred years. All excited. 

I got super thrilled about the discoveries I’m going to make and the stories I’d encounter. ‘Why wait?’, I said to myself and began to chase. I was sure the early years were going to be filled with war stories, considering the first and second world war

Let’s begin with the story of Statue of Liberty, a gift to the United states by the French. It represents ‘Libertas’, Roman goddess who bears a torch and a tablet evoking the law. The statue remains an icon of freedom. She stood at the New York welcoming all since 1886. She witnessed the war and sustained minor damages too. On the 30th of July, 1916, the Black Tom explosion at Jersey, an act of sabotage by German agents to destroy American made dynamites and explosives that were to be supplied to US allies (Britain and France) for their war efforts, caused minor damage to the torch bearing right arm of Statue of Liberty. The narrow ascent to the torch has remained closed for public ever since. It wasn’t my intention to begin this project with a sad note. Nope, not at all. However, we are talking news from war times, hardly any good tunes there.

Have you heard of Zaleszczycki and Sniatyn? I did not have the slightest clue until some google search that I did now. Supposedly 30th of July 1917 is marked as the fall of Zaleszczycki and Sniatyn, they were retaken by Austrian Third Army. Zaleszczycki (in Polish) is a small city on the Dniester river in western Ukraine (between 1918 and 1939 it was part of Poland). Sniatyn is a city in western Ukraine too along the Prut river. Nearly all of Sniatyn’s Jewish population was murdered during holocaust. Two years ago I’d visited Berlin’s war museums. I found such heart wrenching stories all along. It can only remind us that there are two sides to the war and both are dark, sucking them all like a black hole.

Joyce Kilmer was a journalist, poet, literary critic and an editor at New York Times. On 30th of July 1918, he died. Here’s his poem ‘Trees’, that made him famous.

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.


– Joyce Kilmer, 1913

I love the summer and nest of robins there.

Here’s also a note from Hell’s observer on the 30th of July, 1918 – between the rains and guns

hells-observer_1918

Sigmund Widmer, a Swiss historian was born on 30th of July 1919. I had to make this entry at-least to satisfy the historian devil who’s entered my body recently. I think by now you’ve also figured that I’m a traveler. Let’s talk about Chicago. It’s a wonderful place, isn’t it? I like the lake, popcorn, silver bean and the glass balcony view. Once, I had a chance to visit a friend’s aunt who lives in a skyline apartment beside the harbor. The view was as beautiful as the lady of the house. At eighty plus she was bubbling with an energy of eighteen, she’ll remain ever inspiring. Chicago is also known for riots. Race riots : Chicago in red summer of 1919 was between 27th July and 3rd August. It’s considered to be the worst race riot in the history of Illinois. A century further, we still are battling the right to equality, be it gender or race or any other societal barriers, at various corners of this world

Marie Tharp, born on 30th of July 1920, is the woman who discovered the backbone of earth. Marie Tharp´s cartographic accomplishments were exceptional because she overcame educational and employment barriers that limited opportunities for women of her generation. Without doubts she prepared the field for other researchers. In 2009, Ocean in Google Earth included the Marie Tharp Historical Map layer, to allow people to view Tharp’s map using the Google Earth interface.The Marie Tharp Fellowship is a competitive academic visiting fellowship awarded to women to work with researchers at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Marie’s life and work gives me pride as a woman.

Wow, that’s a whole lot. Almost everything I’ve put in there is my new learning, but, the themes have always remained in my writing – war, travel, equal rights, poems.  Have any anecdote to share?

Says, ‘back to your roots’

When you are an amateur blogger and someone likes your post, you go onto their blog, read their life and stories. They’d suddenly become friends in your head, you know what I mean. Unbolt – Tetania and Tony, their poems and extracts felt as if we were having a cup of coffee and discussion at our living room. With the blog and bloggers, there are so many of them I want to call out and tell, how much I nod while reading their posts, how much their life seems so similar to mine or how much our world differs but I understand ‘that feeling’ of theirs. As we grow and move world aparts from friends we grew up with, it’s a bit of challenge, but, it does progress with our stories and experiences. Eventually in the journey, we make new friends, some old ones fall out, some turn thick & thin and some wear out as acquaintances. Friendship is a weird wiring. I’ve felt a constant support, I have been told ‘oh, you’ve changed a lot’, I’ve travelled the unknowns with them, I’ve heard appreciations, I’m countered with tantrums. Well, with me around, maybe they go through this cycle too. Lol.     

One big remark against me has been, ‘oh, moving around the world has made you forget your roots’. If you’ve been a globetrotter too, have you heard that? That’s a hard one to digest. Isn’t it? As I remember this, another post has caught my attention – ‘Back to your roots – blogging about genealogy and family history’. Genealogists around the world are meeting for a conference at Salt Lake City, Utah, this week. So I took some inspiration and tried making my family tree with the root starting from my great great grandparents – my father’s side. From my mother’s side I’ve still got to make progress for generations up my grandparents.

genealogy_blog

Photo: My lineage (only with paternal links)

I know that my patriarchal lineage starts with ‘Vishwamitra’, it’s a methodology in Hindu brahmin community to track down one’s root with a ‘gothra’ system. The hindu ‘gothra’ system denotes the lineage. Being a feminist, I could argue it’s unfair that lineage is carried only by the sons, while the daughter would have to change hers (to her husband’s gothra) after marriage. However, to think of it in chromosomes and genetics way, Y chromosome is always preserved with a male lineage. While woman have X chromosomes each coming from mother and a father. So Y is where we can point clearly, as it’s carried from father to son for many generations. It means the gothra system was basically designed to track down the root Y chromosome of a person easily.

The gothra system sounds like an amazing technique considering that it comes from an age that dates to thousands of years backwards from when we, the modern age human, have begun the exploration of genetics and DNA. However there are far too many things I do not know yet and its very interesting to research them, well, back in my roots. 

Just yesterday, I was telling marido that I want to do a historian project. I think, I’ve made a start.

Nice carnival

It’s already one week passed in February, can you believe that. Feels like time lapse is exponential. Don’t know how to summarize my January, let’s say it was getting bundle loads of work done and successful discipline in my workout. The year still smells fresh, which means I’m enjoying every tad bit of it.

Over the last weekend, marido and I visited Nice.

nice-carnival_snap

Flying to Nice, once my home

An entry into French world all again.

As we walked the promenade,

Azur sea, Sunshine and a mild breeze welcomed us.

I think of my days in this city

And he’s lost in the memories of Mumbai drive.

The birds fly around with wings of freedom

Trying and testing the city’s best.

Crepe’s on the hill were amazing again

Ricotta epinard is so cheesy that caused enough disgust to us.

Some chit and chat with friends

Cupcakes at Emilie’s for a mouthful of sweet.

A modern art museum to see the artiste

Was as crazy as it can get.

An evening flight and we’ll be back to our English

Let’s say, home is where our heart is.

Growing your thoughts

Sometimes, you just want to shut off your logical brain, not like how Mr. Trump has. I’m talking about a temporary turn off of every switch that leads to logic, so that, you could breathe in some fresh air. My last weekend was all about this.

Over a week since I’d picked some canvas, brushes and paints. I’m no painter and have no idea about mixing colors or handling the brush stroke to give magical depths. On Facebook, I kept seeing videos that were showing someone doing a waterfall using spray paint, a sunset using oil paint and portraits with water paints. So, there I was, embracing the painter in me. I started imagining night sky, colors and galaxies. I picked up paints and started to fill the black cardboard. Blues, greens, yellows, reds, blacks, whites took their turns. After many hours an image emerged, light years away from my conceptualization and a waving immaturity. Well, I do not attempt to know how the painting looks. I just know how it feels. Painting for me, is all about gardening your imagination, growing your thoughts, choosing your colors, following a rhythm and stroking the brush. Poetic it sounds, isn’t it? It’s very liberating. Be aware, if you choose to sit down and paint (like how I did), you’re sure to meet some horrifying back aches for later part of the day.

growing-your-thoughts_painting
Another on my to-do list was attending an orchestra at London. Two years ago when I visited London with my friend P we’d missed the show in whiskers. We usually add up musical / theatre events in our travel to soak in a bit of art & culture. This reminds our trip to Florence and our watching an Opera and it classifies for another blog in itself. Anyway, Marido and I spent our Saturday evening at Southbank center. As the Royal Festival hall was preparing itself for a Philharmonic Orchestra, we grabbed a craft beer and a samosa chaat at a food stall. A surprise upgrade on our tickets, helped us move two levels down and much closer to the stage, adding up to our delight. A cute couple came and sat next to us. The lady identified almost every instrument and she also knew compositions. The man was taking a closer look at the stage with his binoculars. They argued, they discussed, they helped each other. Such enthusiasm and curiosity, that too at an age where they could have possibly argued that they’ve experienced it all. At sharp 7.30, a silence gathered in the hall. Violins & flutes generated harmonics and conductor guided the band to create musical magic for the next two hours. We enjoyed every note of it.

Wassup today?

26th January,

4am: I wake up to drink a glass of water and I see my phone blinking. In my sleepy eyes I manage to read the message. My friend has become an aunt to her newly born niece. A daughter is born. I jump out of my bed in joy! I am awake for a long time thinking about the baby girl and then sleep abducts me for a few more hours.

7am: After my sprint nap I wake up. The sky continues to be grey. I pour the hot coffee into our mugs in a ‘filter coffee’ style. The bubbles froth up. Marido and I are discussing about meetings at office and I see these white birds (I think seagull) flying in our residential. Watching the flight show on an Indian Republic Day has been a regular event. This year, it turned out to be a special one. I must say the birds gave us a spectacular morning show and it totally made my day, giving it a real kick start.

11.30am: I decide to eat my lunch as I have a meeting in about 30 minutes. I switch on netflix to watch along and play an old hindi movie ‘kuch kuch hota hai’, a story of college romance. There are many lame stuff in the movie. I was watching this ‘koi mil gaya’ song sequence. It’s an intercollegiate song & dance competition and the host college has messed up. So, the principal is relying on two students and begging them to represent. My first doubt, why do they seek help from these students who aren’t even part of the initial cultural group. Okay let’s move on, these two give a joker performance. After a crowd booing you’ll see a guitar playing chic walking onto the stage. After that, the two jokers become thorough professionals and join her in giving a lifetime performance on stage. How? My second doubt. Many folks join in and they all dance in synchronization and people are singing the song together as though the lyric was coded into everyone’s brain at once, that’s my third. Jeez anyway, wonder how I managed watching this movie, like so many times, while I was a teenager.

4pm: I wind up all my meetings and decide to call home. My dad starts to narrate a story. He asks me if I remember this person in our village who had memory issues. I say ‘who?’. He continues, ‘Oh, the person who had offered his son a cup of coffee and asked him to leave’. I’m like, ‘yeah maybe, I remember. So, what’s up with him, what did he forget this time, to wear his pants’. My dad’s like, ‘No, he died’. My bad! I should’ve guessed. My dad’s got this crazy behavior. Every time he comes home and starts his story with ‘do you remember..?’ mostly 99% of them end with ‘that person is out..’, as if the deceased was playing a cricket match. I behave the grown up and request him to choose a better phrase. Today he did, and I missed his cricket commentary.

6pm: Marido, is back home and he’s got a short haircut, like the parade going one. He says short haircuts remove a big burden from his head. I think to myself, how much does a hair weigh?. Anyway, we are watching fifth season of Breaking Bad and everyday I count the hours pending for its climax. Then, I tell him about the ‘kuch kuch hota hai’ encounter this noon and he says let’s watch some hindi entertainment. Guess what he does next? Turns to netflix and plays ‘Singh is King’. Gosh, I want to runaway.

10pm: I meet my ever entertaining friend, kindle. He’s still narrating ‘Life with no breaks’.Today it’s about Nick’s grumpy uncle and how much everyone hates him. As I read I’m laughing and then I read out a few lines to marido…Slowly sleep’s peeking in….

Do you know to cook?

There are some questions that you can’t get away with, well, I’m talking about the ones post your wedding. The list still tops with ‘‘when are you giving us the special news?’. There is another which competes with this and it’s ‘Do you know to cook? And do you do it well?’. There are a hundred more that I could list without taking a break, but for now let’s focus on cooking. All those ladies who cook awful chunk of food for their family also join the gang and take the liberty to probe you. I could take all those sniper shots, after all ‘food’ is such a calm feeling, isn’t it? By the way all the wonderful ladies in my vessel of life, cook delicious food – mom, mom in law, sis, sis in law, aunts and friends.

Well, also I’m lucky to have a spouse who enjoys cooking. Marido’s recipes are instantaneous and could give a salsa on your palate. His best recipes are traditional ‘saaru anna’, lemon rice and dal. I prefer eating over cooking and I like to relish the food on my plate. Sometimes, I do engage on the other side of the coin and show off my spatula efforts. In the past few months I’m trying to cook food that I enjoy munching.

Mexican food is such a treat. I love guacamole, precisely for the avocado’s woody flavor added to an otherwise simple salad. We picked up the recipe from a relative of ours who’d made this salad for a get together. Since then you’ll find a pack of nachos in our drawers and it gets us to make this recipe often. A good balance of junk & healthy snack for our evenings when we watch episodes of Breaking Bad.

A cauliflower blossom is an invite to try an all time favorite, manchurian. Besides the litres of oil the batter drinks when frying, everything else is divine. The light crunch and the flavors gives a feeling that is indescribable. I tried two variants, a manchurian and a chilly 65. The manchurian was a huge hit and was highly appreciated 😉

Looking for a healthy south Indian meal? ‘ragi muddhe’ with ‘soppina saaru’ is a good choice. I spent an hour learning how to make this. My mum in law described the process over a call and I looked up for youtube videos and recipe blogs to get this right. It was an utter flop. There were lumps of flour and the portions were far too large for us to finish up. I’d need lots of courage to try this again.      

Lastly, when I read up articles on healthy food, I see the mention of soya a zillion times. Also, marido happens to pick up soya chunks from the grocery and I think why not try a soya kurma for rotis. I try a rich curry of soya chunks with tasteful masala and cashew paste to get along with mooli parathas. The kurma was by far one among the best side dishes I’ve made and next I start to work on the parathas. I grate the mooli and dust it with wheat flour. The aromas don’t match up. So, I take a test on the grated flakes and realise we got duped. It turned out to be white carrots, do such things even exist?
Okay ladies, bring it on, but, no more ‘cooking’ questions please…. 

Life with Restarts

One week up since I gave yoga practice a good restart. I’m so glad I did it. For a month I kept talking about restarting fitness regime and got marido to place an order for yoga mats. However, I caught a bad flu around Christmas break and stayed in for almost 10 days with a blocked nose and hard coughs. Once I emerged out of the bed fit and well, I’ve kick started basic yoga-hybrid sessions for myself at home. I’m doing 30 minutes a day and 5 days a week to start with. In just over a week I sense my cells have begun to breathe better, well, at the least I want to believe so.

Another restart story. You know the feel of a device taking over your time. Its like you do exist in a garden, full of flowers and birds chirping around, but, all you get to see is a barren land with mud full of cracks. I’m not giving up on gadgets (phone & TV), but regularizing their usage. Been a month and half now and must say that it stays a priority until it gets into my DNA. Well, I don’t want to put my ‘kindle’ under my gadget list, because, he’s that friend who keeps me entertained, develops my curiosity and fills those blanks & spaces.

A note on books I’ve been reading:

Life with no break, by Nick Spalding. I’d just finished reading some serious books in the last month (To kill a mockingbird, Daring Greatly, We should all be Feminists). I was searching for a quirky and humorous book. I came across ‘Life, with no breaks’ which was written by the author in one sitting (30 hours). Nick is from southern England and he writes about himself in the first few pages. Such a striking coincidence and I was wondering if I’ve met this guy in the recent past. I was in Worthing (Southern England) a few days ago for my work and on my way back I met this cabbie who was driving me down to the train station. As I entered the cab I saw a paper stuck on his dashboard which read, ‘we could speak of many things other than just weather. I have interests in TV, science, books, movies, sports etc’. I found that as an honest and witty way to start short conversations with customers. I gave my appreciation for his innovative display and we engaged in a discussion on television shows and documentaries on discovery channel. I’m sure he isn’t Nick (or probably was he?), but somehow when I’m reading this book I’m able to put only that cabbie’s face as Nick. There isn’t anything new I’m learning from this book and more than a dozen times the author is just ranting, yet he feels like a friend.

Writing this post I remember my friend S. Many years ago we’d gotten into a discussion about the difference between how a man feels and how a woman feels while reading a book. He’d said, woman soak in a book and absorb stories and opinions in them like a sponge, while a man just reads them. I had disagreed and argued his perspective. Now, when I just take a look at my recent posts, I fairly agree I do soak and absorb.